1Pt 1:18-25; Ps 147:13-15,19,20; Mk 10:32-45
“He has strengthened the bars of your gates.”
All who dwell in Jerusalem and all who abide in Zion are full of glory and praise for the LORD God has built them up. He has strengthened the bars of her gates; no enemy can gain access. He has blessed the children within her; future defense is assured in their descendants. Most of all the gift of peace pervades all those who dwell in God’s Holy City. All her citizens share a bountiful harvest; with the best of wheat the LORD fills his people. Indeed, the swift word of the Lord Jesus comes upon the broken bread, comes into the best of wheat to make the best even better. It is nourishment from heaven and the taste of things to come. The Lord of Jacob and the God of Israel has reveal his statues and his ordinances so that all people might see in their way of life just how wonderful human life can be. Indeed, our gift of life is the gift of life eternal. This is the word of the Lord proclaimed in our first reading from Saint Peter. This is the mystery of our union with Christ, the Suffering Servant of the Lord, in all our acts of loving service, in our life of sacrificial praise.
The futile conduct of our ancestors was the ritual purifications that could never purify our hearts. Relationship with the Living God can never be bought at the price of a holocaust offered up in the Temple at Jerusalem. The blood of an animal sacrifice is only a glimpse of the blood of the one offering the sacrifice. The Lord Christ is the spotless and unblemished Lamb who offers his own blood upon the altar of the Cross so that we might be purified in the Blood of the Lamb. Indeed, it is the Lord who is priest, altar, and sacrifice. Indeed, it is the Lord who gives himself for us. His generosity obliterates our selfishness; his kindness blows away our barriers of fear and isolation; his mercy is constant and worthy of all our trust. Although generations of prophecy have revealed the great mystery of the messiah, few of his contemporaries could receive this mystery. Even in our own day such a startling sacrificial love is often too hard to believe, too good to be true. We who believe that God raised his only begotten Son, his faithful suffering Servant, from the dead and given him the glory. We accept this mystery in faith and place all our hope in the Lord’s saving power. This divine love so transforms our weak and broken humanity to be like Christ himself so that we can live in obedience to the truth and have a sincere brotherly love. Such intense love flows, as if naturally, from a pure heart. This is the great joy of our rebirth from an imperishable seed, the living and abiding word of God. Only His Word remains forever; it never withers or wilts. Such is the great adventure of human life after the example of the Son of Man, Christ the Lord who is the Father’s definition of what it means to be human. Only in the power of the Holy Spirit could we accept such a comforting and challenging word of revelation.
It was not the Father who abandoned the Suffering Servant; rather, it was his closest friends who completely misunderstood his prophecy and his mission. They abandoned Jesus because they did not want the same fate to befall them. Because he was on the way up to Jerusalem they thought he was about to reveal his glory by wielding power. In the world of the New Testament our ancestors knew only one kind of power—the kind that lords it over others. Like a whip on the back, or a kick in the face, such is the power of the oppressor. Perhaps, this is why we continually need to come back to the cross. Perhaps, we need to find in the foolishness of the cross the true wisdom of love; we need to find in the weakness of the cross the true power of love. Love is wisdom because it is self-denial. There is great wisdom in being liberated from self. This is freedom—to have and to hold all things without being attached to anything, or anyone. To be attached to God alone is the only wise choice. So many people think that the more choices you have the greater freedom you acquire. Freedom is complete only when we chose to obey The Lord. Love is power because it is service. This is service—to be forgiving. To do unto others as The Lord Jesus has done unto us enables us to be strong enough to give away our hearts without fear of being abandoned. His Father did not abandon Jesus. Yes, he felt abandoned and prayed as we so often pray. The precious Son, eternally close with the Father, felt the impact of all our sins, Jesus felt what sinners feel—forsaken. Jesus drank the chalice of wrath and died upon the cross so that we could never say to God, “you don’t know what it’s like!” Because of their eternal intimacy the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit know what it’s like to suffer the consequences of sin. When we drink the chalice of salvation, then we know true wisdom and real power. Only then will we be first; only then will we be the slaves of all. For like the Son of Man we come to the altar of the cross, not to be served but to serve and to give our lives in ransom for many.